Duluth Police Officers Address Mental Health Crisis

The Duluth Police Department's Mental Health Unit is made up of officers, social workers and health professionals.

DULUTH, Minn. – The Duluth Police Department’s Mental Health Unit is made up of officers, social workers and health professionals.

One officer says he expects the unit could expand over the next few years.

Police officers and mental health experts sat on a panel to inform the public of some of the training put in place.

Officers can complete 32 hours of training called “Crisis Intervention Training.”

It’s not mandatory, more of an option but about 33 percent of Duluth officers have done it.

Officers can respond to a call and offer support for an individual in need.

If there is a concern the crisis response team is notified.

“Mental health, de–escalation, suicide risks, cultural trauma, historical trauma,” said Ed Franckowiak of the Birch Tree Center. “At the end of the day we realize we too are limited like other entities in these fields.”

In one part of the training, actors come in and do different scenarios so officers can know what to do in certain situations.

Officer Angela Robertson is part of the Crisis Response Team.

She says her goal is to help whoever regardless of their race or gender.

“The things that are going off in my mind are: are we symptomatic? what’s going on here? Is there anybody else around? Is this person hurt? Does this person want to hurt themselves,” said Robertson.

We’re told the final numbers or the total cost is hard to come up with, but with the personal stories shared officers hope people will get an idea of how this program is effective.

These Transition Coalition Meetings are statewide and happen all across Minnesota every month.

The mental health unit also works with community partners like CHUM, the Damiano Center and San Marco.

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